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PICTURES: Coalition launches first strikes against Libya

The US and UK militaries have deployed ship- and submarine-launched cruise missiles against key infrastructure targets in Libya, as French air force strike aircraft are reported to have attacked ground forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi near the city of Benghazi.

More than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US Navy submarines and frigates began the attack, with the first targets having been anti-aircraft systems around the capital Tripoli and along Libya’s Mediterranean coast.

© US Navy

The UK Ministry of Defence says a Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine launched an undisclosed number of Tomahawks as part of “a co-ordinated strike against Libyan air defence systems”.

The French defence ministry says a strike package of eight Dassault Rafales, two Mirage 2000Ds and two Mirage 2000-5s (one shown below) were involved in operations from early in the afternoon of 19 March. Its air force also committed six of its Boeing C-135 tankers and one E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft to support its action, which was launched from domestic bases.

© EMA/French air force

New images have also been released by the MoD of Royal Air Force squadrons making preparations to deploy Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft from Marham, Norfolk and Eurofighter Typhoons from Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

© Cpl Nik Howe/Crown Copyright

© SAC Chris Davidson/Crown Copyright

France, the UK and the USA are among major nations to have committed forces to restrict the actions of the Gaddafi regime following the UN Security Council’s passing of resolution 1973. Other coalition members include Canada and Italy, while several Arab League states also support the action.

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